4 Things I Learned from Bill’s Termite Inspector AMA on Reddit

Last week, Bill hosted an AMA on Reddit. I went into it thinking I knew pretty much all I ever need to know about termites. To me, termites are like the teenagers of the insect world: they will eat me out of house and home if I let them, they have some pretty disgusting personal habits, and they inconsiderately leave their wings all over my floor.

Bill had some interesting things to say about termites, though. Here are some of the things that stood out.

1. To start, I had no idea termites carry around an emergency supply of soil to stay hydrated.

When a termite inspector goes into your basement, they are looking for dirt on the wood. Termites leave the top layer of the wood intact, but they leave the dirt that they have carried with them to stay hydrated. When they reach the wood, termites ditch the dirt and burrow into the wood. If the inspector sees dirt on wood in your basement, they may start tapping and probing the wood to see if it is hollow. 

Not unlike these inconsiderate hikers on the Appalachian Trail, termites leave their hydrating beverages behind after a long hike:

Source: 100peaks.com
Source: 100peaks.com

2. The average subterranean termites colony will destroy a 3-foot 2×4 in about a year’s time.

Termites are not destroying an entire house overnight, but they are thorough and go for the good (expensive) wood first. Termites are usually munching away in the structural parts of a home: the sill plates, floor joists and beams. Undiagnosed and untreated, termites will completely hollow out these structural areas of a home, and it can often lead to a total replacement job.

3. Who knew that there were different types of termites? Not me.

According to Bill, the type of termite we see in New England is a subterranean termite. These termites have to go below the frost line to avoid the freezing temperatures of New England winters.  In other parts of the country, there is a different type of termite called a drywood termite, because yes, as their name suggests, they live in dry wood. It is important to know which type of termite you have, because they have to be treated differently. If you find evidence of termites, contact Debug for effective Rhode Island termite control solutions.

From the University of Florida:

Eastern and Formosan Subterranean TermitesDrywood Termites
Live in the ground. Make mud tubes to travel from soil to wood – a kind of covered highway – as protection from dehydration and predatorsLive inside the wood they infest and do not require contact with the soil. Do not build mud tubes. Can infest from air.

4. There are actually some preventative things I can do to make the termites’ lives a little more difficult.

Bill mentioned three things specifically, and they seem straightforward enough:

  1. Keep moisture to a minimum around the foundation. Clean your gutters. Cut back plants from your foundation. Sweep-up leaves and plant debris around your foundation.
  2. Keep the grade of soil down away from siding so you can see the foundation (about six inches or so).
  3. Keep mulch or woodpiles away from your home. Mulch and firewood hold moisture and are easy pickings for termites.

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Bonus Blog Article

7 Tips to Keep Your Home Cockroach Free

You’ve seen it before in movies or experienced it yourself first hand. It’s the middle of the night, you go down to the kitchen for a drink of water, turn on the light, and freeze in a moment of horror as you see critters scattering in all directions. Cockroaches!

Many people joke about how a natural or man-made disaster could wipe out the world, yet cockroaches would probably still survive. Well, they have managed to stick around for 400 million years so they’re doing something right. But having a cockroach infestation is not something any of us want to experience.

SEE ALSO: Why are Cockroaches So Hard to Control? →

Cockroaches are a health risk that can get out of hand quite quickly. It is said that between 79% – 98% of most urban houses will have cockroaches lurking. And once they have moved in, they are able to spread 6 forms of parasitic worms, 33 forms of bacteria, and around 7 other pathogens that affect humans. The allergens from cockroaches can trigger asthma and allergies.

Cockroach on bathroom tile
Cockroach on a bathroom wall

Cockroaches can feed on just about anything. They thrive in damp and dirty places where they choose to build their habitats. The American cockroach likes to build close to its food source and quite often will choose to live in food storage areas, basements, sewers, and steam tunnels. They are extremely drawn to fermented food as well.

So how do we get rid of such a resilient foe?

Sanitation is one of the biggest keys in fighting a cockroach infestation or even avoiding one from happening altogether. We mentioned how they like to keep near sources of food. So it’s important to keep these areas tidy. Cockroaches usually are found in bathrooms and kitchens, mainly under sinks and appliances.

1. Keep surfaces clean

Any area where you prepare or eat food should be wiped down immediately and after every use. The same goes for your stovetop. You don’t want to leave bits of food around that will entice cockroaches to set up camp.

2. Wash those dishes

It’s a habit many of us can fall into, especially in a busy home. Leaving dirty dishes to sit out overnight is like an open invitation to cockroaches. If you don’t have time to wash up then at least rinse your dishes, or leave them soaking in some soapy water. The same rule applies to dishwashers. Rinse your dishes before loading them in and be sure that your dishwasher itself is kept clean. Food particles can get left in the filters. A good tip to try is to flush your washer with a white vinegar rinse. One cup of vinegar placed on a top rack and a half cup in the bottom of the dishwasher, run on a hot cycle, can get it really clean.

3. Watch out for our furred and feathered friends

If you have pets, it’s important that you keep their food and water bowls clean. Give them a good wash every day. And don’t leave food out overnight. You may want to find a better way of leaving water out at night too because your pet’s water bowl is another attraction to cockroaches.

4. Store your food properly

Any food that is stored in cabinets should be sealed in containers that are airtight. Cereals, pasta, flour…these often get placed back in the cabinets in their original containers and wrappers, not sealed properly. The next thing you know, you go to pour that bowl of cereal and find an unwelcome guest amongst your corn flakes. Seal loose food like this in Tupperware containers. And keep those shelves tidy as well.

5. Those hidden areas behind appliances clean

Your microwave and stove are two appliances that often get neglected where cleaning is concerned. They are also two of the main appliances that can attract cockroaches because of all of the food fragments that can get left inside of them. Make it a point to properly clean your stovetop, oven, and microwave on a regular basis, including any extractor hoods over the stove. If you have a toaster, make sure you empty the crumb trays daily. Other neglected and hard-to-reach areas that need attention are behind and under the stove and refrigerator which should be cleaned on a regular basis too.

6. Take out the trash

Don’t leave open garbage bags laying around. Be sure to dispose of any garbage and compost properly. Even having a garbage bin in your kitchen with a lid is not ideal. Garbage should be disposed of every night in their designated, outside bins. Also, be sure to sweep and vacuum your floors on a regular basis to make sure food particles are not being left to collect in corners. If you use a vacuum that has bags, this can be another source of food for cockroaches (if you are vacuuming up food) so change those bags regularly as well.

7. Monitor ventilation areas and seal holes

If you have areas where moisture buildup can happen, such as in crawl spaces and basements, find a way to ventilate these areas in order to create a drier atmosphere. Also, be sure to seal any holes and cracks that you find, both inside and outside of the house, along with any utility pipes. In the house, look for gaps and cracks in the walls and floors (especially floorboards), around cabinets, water pipes, and electrical cables. Look for leaks, especially under sinks, and seal them properly.

If you can get into a good routine it will really cut down the chances of having a cockroach infestation in your home. It will benefit your health as well because you will be cutting down on bacteria, pathogens, and parasites that could trigger allergies, asthma, and possibly other ailments.

For more information on cockroach control in Providence, call us at 401-992-9000.

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